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What is a freshwater parrotfish?

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Quick Answer

The two types of fish commonly referred to as freshwater parrotfish are the parrot chichlid, a large fish that inhabits the Amazon and Orinoco rivers in South America, and the blood parrot chichlid, a man-made hybrid with anatomical deformities developed in Taiwan. True parrot chichlids are rarely seen in aquariums, while blood parrot chichlids are popular with some aquarium enthusiasts.

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Full Answer

Parrot chichlids, or hoplarchus psittacus, are green fish with large, parrot-like mouths. They grow to a length of more than a foot. Though they are rare as aquarium fish, they are prized as food fish by indigenous people in Columbia, Venezuela and Brazil.

Blood parrot chichlids are the subjects of controversy among aquarium hobbyists, many of whom feel they should not be bred and sold due to their abnormal swim bladders, spines, irises and mouths, according to Cichlid Research, a website that engages in scientific study of these fish. As a result of these deformities, some fish have difficulty feeding and swimming. Although some breeding has been successful, most male blood parrot chichlids are infertile. Some males have been hormone-injected as an attempt at promoting fertility. While blood parrot chichlids are already colorful, some breeders inject them with dye to change the colors, which shortens their life spans. Due to these and other malpractices, many wholesale fish vendors and fish stores refuse to stock blood parrot chichlids, and many aquarium hobbyists boycott distributors of these fish, according to Cichlid Research.

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